Maja J Matarić
I am committed to mentoring the next generation of scientists
and engineers, half of whom should be women. I am also passionate
about sharing my experiences and providing constructive advice to
women and girls. There is no need for all of us to make the same
mistakes and fight the same fights.
I have put together this resource web page because I am often asked
the same types of mentoring questions, and I give the same type of
mentoring advice (well, I'm consistent :). This page provides links to
some interviews I have done that include many of those questions, and
First, here are my credentials for giving this advice. These are
helpful for those who are writing a paper or report. (One high school
student used this on-line advice so well, her report got an award.)
Maja Mataric´ is professor and Chan Soon-Shiong chair in
the Computer Science
Neuroscience Program, and the
Department of Pediatrics at the
University of Southern California, founding director of USC's
Robotics and Autonomous Systems Center
(RASC) and co-director of the USC Robotics Research Lab.
She is the recipient of the 2009
Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics &
Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) (award PR:
along with mentoring honors at USC. She was named one of the 25 Most
Powerful Women in Technology (full
story), and one of the top 25 Women in Robotics
story). As part of her continuing efforts to promote diversity in engineering
education and research, she chaired the
Viterbi School of Engineering
Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) Program, regularly serves
mentor, and contributes to mentoring resources for girls and women.
Here are some interviews I have participated in, and advice I have given:
Anita Borg Institute Women of Vision Award in Innovation Award
IEEE TV's TryEngineering Careers With Impact profile
EngineerGirl site profile
Interview on the Viterbi
School Women in Engineering (WIE)
Interview with Intel's
Stay With It program
Interview with Pacific Standard
Some additional advice:
Realize that most of what you read, watch, and hear is
full of stereotypes. Do your own research, ideally by talkign with people who
are involved in STEM, programming, research, and visiting real
labs, so you get the sense of what things are really like.
Realize that everything you see today is just what is going on
today, but it will all change and grow and be developed in new
directions and ways based on people who work in the field. So if you
work in the field, you get to shape and change it. Don't turn away
from something because you think it should be done differently;
instead get involved and change it, do it your way..
Volunteer your time so you can learn the exciting new developments
in the field(s) you are interested in, not because you will
necessarily go on and do research in the future, but because you will
learn so much more about the real challenges of any field and about
what is really exciting than you could glean in a class, by reading,
or from talking to people. Volunteering also gains you experience and
will get you reference letters, too.
Don't expect to be paid if you have no experience; look for
scholarships and other ways of supporting your time. Building your
future takes an investment of time.
No matter what you want to do and be, learn to program.
Programming is behind almost everything in the 21st century. If you
can program, you have a skill to contribute to any organization, and
any lab. If you are committed, you can learn to program for free on
the web; see code.org as a starting
point. Knowing how to program makes you employable and marketable.
Push. (See the Anita Borg acceptance speech above for details.)
Last update on 5/8/14
Go to Maja's home page.
Go to the Interaction Lab home page.